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Freshman Studies Collection

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Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Freshman Studies Collection, 1945-2018 | Lawrence University Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Freshman Studies Collection, 1945-2018View associated digital content.

ID: LU-RG04/029

Primary Creator: Lawrence University

Extent: 1.45 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: This collection is arranged alphabetically by subject/format of materials.

Subjects: College freshmen, Education, Higher -- Curricula

Forms of Material: correspondence, syllabi

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of materials documenting the history and development of Freshman Studies, a required course for freshmen at Lawrence introduced by President Nathan Pusey in the fall of 1945. Correspondence, schedules and reading lists, committee and grant documentation, and other curricular materials make up the bulk of the collection. Documentation on variations of the freshman core program offered during the 1970s is also included.

Collection Historical Note

The Freshman Studies program was first introduced in 1945 by President Nathan Pusey. Inspired by a similar program he had helped create at Wesleyan University, Pusey envisioned a course that would awaken beginning students’ intellectual curiosity with reading, writing, and discussion in the liberal arts. The course was initially taught as a two-semester course, with groups of fifteen or fewer students in each class and a shift in instructors each semester. Works studied most often in the program’s first ten years included works by Plato, Shakespeare, Marx and Engels, and Darwin, as well as works of art, music, and film. The course was initially popular among both students and faculty, though some faculty held concerns about the additional teaching load.

A shift in educational priorities in the 1960s further strained existing tensions between the general education nature of the course and faculty specializations. In 1969, one term of Freshman Studies was replaced with disciplinary “Topics of Inquiry.” The program was restructured several times during subsequent years until it was essentially abandoned in 1975.

After a few years of replacement freshman core programs, many faculty began to feel that these programs had failed to produce desired results in improving student writing and other objectives. One term of the traditional Freshman Studies program was reinstated in 1978, with additional support from a newly appointed director of the program, J. Michael Hittle. In response to growing sentiment in favor of returning to the original program, the faculty voted to reinstate the two-term program in 1986.

Since that time, the program has maintained its two-term structure. The course has also largely maintained its focus on encouraging intellectual curiosity in the liberal arts, though building skills in critical thinking and writing remain additional objectives.

Subject/Index Terms

College freshmen
Education, Higher -- Curricula

Administrative Information

Repository: Lawrence University Archives

Accruals: Materials on Freshman Studies will continue to be collected and added to this collection by the University Archivist.

Alternate Extent Statement: 2 boxes and 2 MB

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Property rights reside with Lawrence University.  For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the University Archivist.

Acquisition Method: Bulk of materials acquired prior to 2005. The source, date, and method of acquisition are unknown.

Preferred Citation: Freshman Studies Collection.  LU-RG04-029. Lawrence University Archives, Seeley G. Mudd Library, Appleton, Wisconsin.

Processing Information: Preliminary processing completed prior to 2005. Further processing and finding aid completed by Erin Dix, 2011.

Finding Aid Revision History: Curricular materials created/collected by Peter Fritzell removed from the collection to be cataloged and housed with other Peter Fritzell Papers, 2015-03-09.


Box and Folder Listing


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Box 2
Folder 1: General files (memoranda, correspondence, notes on works), 1945-1969View associated digital content.
Extent: 4 folders
Folder 5: Student writing recommendations, 1948-1978
Folder 6: Questionnaires, 1946-1983View associated digital content.

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